By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard, Dwayne Wade is no longer on the Chicago Bulls. Bought out and signing a new contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the last of the so called Three Alphas has departed. As John Paxson explained on Monday, the Bulls were on a “different path” than Wade. The absence of the Future Hall of Famer presents a “great opportunity for the young guys.” Is this sadness I feel? No, I feel nothing for Dwayne Wade leaving. It was probably a mistake bringing D-Wade to the Bulls to begin with. If you are a fan who wants the Bulls to tank, than the departure of Wade should make you very happy. The Bulls are now, on paper, a very bad team.
With Wade gone, Bulls management turned its attention to Niko Mirotic, signing the free agent power forward to a 2 year deal. The amount of money spent on Niko isn’t really that important, the Bulls have loads of salary cap space, plus it’s not my money being spent. The important part of the deal is the team option for the second year, meaning, if Niko is a disaster this season the Bulls can cut ties with him without having to 1) pay him for the second year or 2) buy him out.
An unfortunate, and unavoidable part of the Niko deal is the “no-trade” clause included in the contract. From what I hear, the no-trade clause was part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) the League and Players Association came to in their last contract negotiations. Any free agent in Niko’s situation would also get a no-trade clause in whatever contract they signed, that is, it wasn’t something the Bulls or Niko could negotiate, the CBA guaranteed it. No use crying over spilled milk; Niko has control over his own destiny, and just because he has a no-trade clause doesn’t mean he will use it if traded.
Monday was Media Day for the NBA. The day when the new season officially starts. The day when players take the promo photos and videos that will run on score boards and bill boards all over the world. Media Day is also a day for interviews with players, coaches, and management, the whole kit and caboodle. John Paxson, Gar Forman, and Fred Hoiberg faced the media together, like Three Alphas (or Cerberus), very proud of the culture being created by the Baby Bulls 2.0. Paxson was especially concerned with the young guys working hard, playing through mistakes and showing “professional growth.”
Forman, for his part, reassured fans that the Bulls had a leg up on the rebuild. They had acquired 3 top draft picks, Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, and Zach Lavine, in the Jimmy Butler trade. They still have all their 1st round picks in future drafts. He made it clear that the Bulls have cap flexibility for upcoming free agency and the acquisition of draft picks from other teams. Forman also pointed out that the draft would “now be very, very important.” Perhaps if Forman had considered the draft “very, very important” in the past, the Bulls wouldn’t need to rebuild now. ‘nuff said.
Fred Hoiberg had interesting things to say about this upcoming season. When asked what his starting line up would be on opening night he said he didn’t know. He admitted that Robin Lopez was probably going to be the starting center on opening night, but every other position was an open competition. Hoiberg was very forceful when speaking about winning games, you can tell he is NOT on-board the tanking boat. He said he is going to prepare the team with the intention of winning every game.
The other tidbit to come out of media day was an update on Zach Lavine. Both he and Bulls management don’t expect Lavine to be medically cleared to start basketball activities (i.e. practice) until early November. It might be December by the time Lavine can start playing in actual games.
By now the 2017-18 Chicago Bulls have had their first official practice of the season. The new faces are making new friends. Old friends are making up new dances for when they are on the bench. A new direction has been set!
I will leave you with the “Scary Thought of the Day”-Nikola Mirotic is the longest tenured Bull, having played 3 consecutive seasons for the team. Bobby Portis, Cristiano Felicio, and Justin Holiday have each spent 2 seasons with the Bulls (though not consecutively for Holiday). Every other player either joined the team last season or was acquired this summer. As the season unfolds, expect growing pains.